Not long after I started my job at Gardener’s Supply in early spring, a box arrived packed full with strong, healthy plants with my name on it. While this wasn’t unusual for me — I’ve shipped myself irresistible specimens at odd times of year before — it was early in the season to put these beauties in the ground. Mostly, I was thinking what a shame it would be to take such well-cared-for plants and expose them to the certain uncertainty that is spring in Vermont.
The plants were ordered from our catalog, but grown for us by the Tasteful Garden in Heflin, AL, where spring comes much earlier. The package contained three peppers, three tomatoes, an eggplant, bunching onions, basil, French filet beans and custom plant labels for each. They were the very first plants that I put into our raised beds, sometime around May 8. For the sake of comparison, I planted my own tomatoes and peppers at home five weeks later.
As the season progressed, the plants held steady. With the protection of our All-Purpose Fabric, they withstood some light frosts in late spring. The excellent drainage of our raised beds helped them survive an amazing amount of rain in early summer. While nothing grew for a few depressing weeks, these plants didn’t fade like some others in the garden. I was impressed when the 4th of July tomato did, in fact, deliver as its name promised, just before its big day. Once the weather warmed up and dried out, the plants just took off. The peppers, eggplant and tomatoes filled their support cages.
The best news, however, is the harvest. The peppers are just enormous! The Gemini yellow bell and Reina red bell are bigger than the Big Bertha peppers that I love to grow at home for their huge size. Both the filet beans and eggplant were notably productive. And the eggplant has been loaded with fruit all summer.
So, now it’s just down to flavor. I scanned my garden diary and casually polled our garden center staff, who love to harvest the garden during their lunch breaks:
Bell peppers: “Juicy and crisp” / “Peppery”
Tomatoes: “Sweet Million cherry tomatoes were delicious!” / “Ate an Early Girl with my lunch every day this week; a real treat”
Eggplant: “Took it home and grilled it — tasted great”
Filet Beans: “Loved them best for fresh eating” / “Couldn’t believe how often I was picking them. Like, daily”
Basil: “Definitely flavorful and aromatic — smelled like licorice”
These plants delivered everything they promised. Our weather put them to the test and they met it. What about you? Did you get a box of veggie plants from Gardener’s Supply this year? We’d love to hear about your plants in the comments below.